Preview - Misano.

Just one week after two of the most closely contest World Superbike races in recent history, at Silverstone, San Marino hosts what is expected to be a superheated next round at the Misano Adriatico circuit, Italy.

Situated behind the Adriatic Riviera towns of Riccione and Cattolica, which become a summer playground for visitors from all over Italy, the Misano Adriatico circuit has hosted 12 previous World Superbike rounds, in an unbroken sequence from 1991 to 2003.

Legendary names such as Fogarty, Corser, Chili, Polen, Falappa, Kocinski, Russell, Slight and Bayliss have all won races at the compact Misano track, a circuit which has experienced ambient temperatures of up to 40°C in the run-up to this year's race weekend.

The track itself is something of a torture chamber for tyres, with so many extreme lean angle left hand corners in its relatively short 4.060km length. Most bends are slow and technical but a flat out blast through the gearbox, from the Curva del Caro to the exit of the third left-handed section of the awe-inspiring Curvone, marks Misano out as a uniquely challenging circuit on the WSBK trail.

Always a popular venue for the enthusiastic Italian fans, Misano has been a happy hunting ground for some notable names in the current SBK paddock. Pierfrancesco Chili and Troy Corser have both taken wins at the venue, but for current runaway championship leader Neil Hodgson, Misano will be another new world for him to conquer, should he continue his rich seam of form.

Eleven wins from 12 attempts sums up his season better than a thousand words of prose, but for Hodgson, Misano may prove to be a crucible, rather than an opportunity to bag another golden cup.

Hodgson's single defeat thus far took place at Oschersleben in Germany, on a similar track to Misano and in hot weather conditions, and thus the man who sits second in the table at present will fancy his chances to repeat his Oschersleben race two victory.

HM Plant Ducat's James Toseland was that man, although his second position in the title race is a closely contested one.

Ruben Xaus, Hodgson's team-mate in the Ducati Fila team, is a close third, after two podium performances in England ended a run of bad luck and crashes from the outrageously talented Catalan. His performances may be unpredictable but his ability to push the motorcycle to feats of breathtaking bravado put him in an all action class of his own.

On a fully private machine, NCR Ducati's Regis Laconi will still be a threat at such a technical circuit, while Misano may be a venue that Alstare Suzuki's Gregorio Lavilla can take his first win of the year. Proving beyond doubt the prowess of himself and his four-cylinder 1000cc machine, Lavilla has been a major star this season.

Related Pictures

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James Toseland [HM Plant Ducati] and Neil Hodgson [Team Ducati Fila]

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